One of only ten known copies of the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth sold for $7.2 million late Sunday night, making it the third most valuable sports card to change hands. The card, which was graded 3 (VG) by SGC, received extensive national publicity. Fifteen bids were made, just one of which came on the final day of the auction.
The 2 5/8″ x 3 5/8″ card features the 19-year-old Ruth as a member of Baltimore’s minor league club and was part of a set of cards that featured player images on the front and a team schedule on the back. The cards from what was a team set are believed to have been distributed with the newspaper.
The card fell short of its $10 million estimate. There’s no word on the identity of the buyer.
It was the first time one had been offered in more than ten years and the highest rated copy to appear at auction in more than 15 years. REA President Brian Dwyer stated it is “very likely to be the only example we’ll see available for purchase for years to come.”
It’s the highest-graded example on the SGC Population Report and the second-best example in the hobby, with only a single PSA 4 graded higher.
In June of 2021, it was sold to a private collector in Florida for $6 million and a small ownership stake in the card was sold to users of the Collectable fractional shares platform but those shares were liquidated in January of this year.
Prior to its sale earlier this decade, the card had been in the same Baltimore area family for more than 100 years. From 1998 until earlier this year, it was on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.
“This auction was a watershed moment for the Baltimore News Babe Ruth card, for REA, and for the hobby. We are thrilled to see Babe Ruth stake his spot in the top three all-time with this record-setting result, and we are proud to have brought this incredibly significant card to auction for what may be the only time for many years to come,” stated REA President Brian Dwyer. “This was a historic offering and a superb price realized against the backdrop of our largest auction ever.”
Fourteen other cards from the set, including one of Jack Dunn, who is credited with discovering Ruth, were offered but didn’t meet reserve prices.
The Ruth card now stands behind only the 1952 Topps Mantle SGC 9.5 ($12.6 million) and a T206 Honus Wagner ($7.25 million) on the list of most expensive sports cards.
The auction featured 15 items that exceeded $100,000. Other top sellers included a 1933 R319 Goudey #149 Ruth graded PSA 8 that sold for $396,000, one of only six known copies of the 1921 Frederick Photo Ruth (SGC 2 –$168,000), a PSA 7 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle ($246,000), a 1955 Bowman Mantle PSA 9 ($246,000), a 1997-1998 Skybox Metal Universe Championship Precious Metal Gems Basketball #23 Michael Jordan #14/50 BGS NM-MT+ 8.5 ($240,000) and a 2013 Tom Brady game-used Patriots jersey photomatched to four games ($264,000). Complete results are here.
A total of 93,151 bids were placed by a record number of bidders, generating more than $22.1 million in sales, the highest in REA’s 30-year history.